As has become typical of the Marshall Tiger football team in recent years, the Tigers out-gained their opponents, Robbinsdale Cooper, on Friday night. What has not been common, however, is the end result not mirroring the yardage disparity.
The Tigers had 296 total yards to 217 for Robbinsdale Cooper, out of New Hope, but it was the Hawks who led on the scoreboard, using three big plays to top the Tigers 24-13.
"We were concerned about their big play ability. We knew they had it and they hit us for three big plays there," Marshall head coach Terry Bahlmann said. "The last three minutes things sort of got away from us and that added to it."
A passing touchdown of 41 yards and a rushing touchdown of 52 in the first half, along with a 40-yard punt return TD in the fourth quarter separated the two teams.
Marshall quarterback Brad Bahlmann opened the scoring for the night, breaking into the endzone from three yards out. Paul Citrowske tacked on the extra point to give Marshall a lead.
Cooper pulled within one after breaking off their 52-yard running score.
The Hawks added two more touchdowns before halftime, striking through the air for 41 and 20 yards in the second quarter to take an 18-7 lead into the locker room.
Sophomore Max Roelfsema responded after the break with a 22-yard scoring dash with 3 minutes, 44 seconds to play in the third quarter. The Tigers two-point pass attempt on the PAT failed.
Marshall had a chance to take the lead, marching down the 10-yard line with 1st-and-goal to go. The Tigers were not able to capitalize, however, and would not get another chance.
"We did some nice things, but made to many mistakes in the end to get it done," Bahlmann said. "I thought we had momentum. It was 18-13 and drove the ball down to the 10-yard line, but couldn't complete that drive. That switched the momentum back. If we finish that off we're in good shape and momentum was in our favor for the fourth quarter."
The two teams traded possession for most of the fourth quarter until, with 2:17 remaining in the game, Cooper returned a punt 40 yards for a score, effectively ending the game in the process.
Running back Sam Marshall led the young Tigers with 100 yards on 17 carries. Bahlmann added 51 more rushing yards and completed 8 of 16 passes for 42 yards. Marshall caught half of those passes for half the yards.
Roelfsema turned six touches into 41 yards on the ground.
Defensively, senior Tyus DeBoer paced the Tigers with 10 tackles (eight solo, four assists) and had one of three sacks on the night. Hunter Greve and Reece Winkelman added sacks in the loss.
"We're not into moral victories with where our program is at right now," Bahlmann said. "We need to come out and finish ball games. Being young is not an excuse. They're getting reps, they need to make the plays when they get the chance.
"We maybe lost our composure in the last three minutes and we need to take care of those. We'll get better from here. We're disappointed, but we'll be ready to play Fairmont next week."
The Tigers (0-1 overall) open up their home schedule on Sept. 6 at Mattke Field at the Schwan Regional Event Center against the Cardinals.
Robbinsdale Cooper 24, Marshall 13
Marshall7 0 6 0 - 13
Cooper6 12 0 6 - 24
M - Brad Bahlmann 3 run (Paul Citrowske kick).
C - 52 run.
C - 41 pass, 8:11
C - 20 pass, 2:35.
M - Max Roelfsema 22 run (pass failed), 3:44.
C - 40 punt return, 2:17.
RUSHING: Sam Marshall 17-100, Brad Bahlmann 16-51, Max Roelfsema 6-41, Nick Saugstad 5-39, Collin Reilly 7-20, Jack Bock 2-9, Drew Hmielewski 1-(-6).
PASSING: Bahlmann 8-16-42-1.
RECEIVING: Marshall 4-21, Hmielewski 2-10, Saugstad 2-11.
TACKLES: Tyus DeBoer 10, Hunter Greve 3.5, Bahlmann 4
SACKS: DeBoer, Greve, Reece Winkelman